Mueller? Mueller? Cubs Coaching Staff Coming Into Focus

Multiple outlets confirmed the Sun-Times report that the front office is looking to hire Bill Mueller to be the Cubs’ new hitting coach. Mueller would be one of possible two hitting coaches on Rick Renteria’s staff.

The front office knows they cannot miss on what will be the team’s third hitting coach in three seasons. Mueller has mainly been working in the Dodgers’ front office since he retired. Mueller served as a special assistant to GM Ned Colletti before replacing Eddie Murray on an interim basis as the Dodgers’ hitting coach in 2007. Mueller finished out the season as Los Angeles’ hitting coach then returned to the front office. Mueller was a full-time pro scout for the Dodgers last year.

Bill Mueller would figure to be on the same page with the front office, and correct a communication problem that reportedly existed between Dale Sveum, James Rowson, Rob Deer and management last season.

The Coaching Staff

Chris Bosio and assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach Lester Strode will be returning to the Cubs staff. Reports have suggested Bosio has already signed a two-year contract. Mike Borzello is also expected back.

Comcast SportsNet shot down reports that A.J. Hinch is in the mix for the Cubs’ bench coach job and it is unclear at this point who Rick Renteria and the front office could be looking at to fill the position.

Mariano Duncan appears to be in the running for a big league coaching position, but it would not be as the primary hitting coach. Duncan could be in line for a promotion due to the work he put in as Daytona’s hitting coach last season. Duncan spent a majority of the final month of the season with the Cubs. And coincidentally, Starlin Castro had his second best month of the year and showed signs of the old Starlin Castro at the plate.

Gary Jones and Bruce Fields could serve as base coaches and Jose Castro is thought to be a candidate for a coaching job. Jones has been a minor league infield coordinator for the Padres while Fields has been a hitting coach and a minor league hitting coordinator in the Tigers’ system.

Alex Cora and Henry Blanco are reportedly possibilities for coaching positions as well.

The Cubs are expected to announce Rick Renteria’s staff in the next week to ten days.

Mark DeRosa

Former Cubs’ utility-man Mark DeRosa announced his retirement from baseball on Tuesday further fueling the speculation he could replace Keith Moreland in the Cubs’ radio booth. DeRosa walked away from the last year of his contract with the Blue Jays that would have paid him $750,000.

DeRosa was mentioned, along with seven other former Cubs, as a possibility to be the color analyst on 720 WGN alongside Pat Hughes.

Todd Hollandsworth might be the most viable candidate of the list of former Cubs, but don’t count out WGN hiring Andy Masur to help Hughes call the games.

Pat Hughes was scheduled to meet with WGN Radio sports director Dave Eanet, and others, on Tuesday to discuss the next hire.

Off-Season Additions

The Cubs are looking to add pitching, pitching and more pitching this winter. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are trying to fill multiple needs this off-season. The Cubs are believed to be looking for a catcher, an outfielder, a starting pitcher and a potential closer.

Masahiro Tanaka and the New Posting Rules

The Cubs will be in the process for Masahiro Tanaka when he is posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The posting fee figures to reach record numbers for Tanaka just to negotiate a contract with him.

Ken Davidoff reported the new posting rules should be announced “shortly” on Tuesday. Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball “have virtually agreed to the new system.” According to Davidoff, “the system has been tweaked so the team posting the top bid will still win exclusive negotiating rights to the player, but now the actual price will be an average of the top two bids.” Davidoff added “the agreement is a tradeoff for both sides.”

There is a growing concern about Masahiro Tanaka’s long-term health. Tanaka was used heavily during the Golden Eagles post-season run to the Japan Series Championship. Tanaka threw four complete games in five post season starts, plus made two relief appearances. Tanaka closed out the final game after throwing 160 pitches the day before.

The Yankees and Dodgers are seen as the frontrunners to place the highest bid for Tanaka. The Cubs and Diamondbacks will also be in the process, but not the Rangers. Texas’ GM, Jon Daniels said on Tuesday that his team would not be in on either Tanaka or Matt Garza this winter.

Christian Villanueva and Arismendy Alcantara

Two of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system received another post-season award on Tuesday. Christian Villanueva and Arismendy Alcantara were named to the Minor League Baseball and Topps Company Double-A All-Star team.

Baseball America recently ranked Arismendy Alcantara as the seventh best prospect in the Cubs’ system. Christian Villanueva is the best defensive infielder in the Cubs’ system and will be ranked in the top 20 on prospect rankings this winter.

BBWAA Awards

The NL and AL Manager of the Year Awards were announced on Tuesday. The Pirates’ Clint Hurdle took home the NL honor while the Indians’ Terry Francona topped his former pitching coach, John Farrell, for the AL award. Next up on the award schedule is NL and AL Cy Young awards on Wednesday. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Detroit’s Max Scherzer are expected to be runaway winners for the annual pitching awards.

News, Notes and More Rumors

From the not-going-to-happen rumor mill, Rotoworld picked up a report from Mets Blog that the Cubs are interested in signing OF Curtis Granderson. The Yankees made a qualifying offer to Granderson, which he turned down. Granderson is a good player and could very well end up on the South Side, but not with the Cubs. Granderson turns 33 in March and will not only cost the Cubs a draft pick but also the slot money connected to the pick. The Cubs’ first round pick is protected. Signing Granderson would go against the plan Theo Epstein has laid out countless times.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Red Sox did not deny the Cubs permission to speak with Torey Lovullo.

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  • Tony_Hall

    ““We did not deny permission,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday. “There was no request for permission. I can’t comment on it any further out of respect for the Cubs and their process and obviously they’ve hired a manager.

    “I’m not sure it would be appropriate to comment any further. I can say in conversations with Torey, he is very happy where he’s at and we were able to agree to a new contract with him.””

    • DWalker

      why ask if you already have been told the answer?

      • TrevorPetersma

        So they can’t make a statement like this later. :) It forces them to at least admit that they denied permission or straight up lie about it.

        I made a mistake once in not putting a formal offer on a house because the sellers preempted my making an offer by having their agent call and tell me what their bottom line was. Since the supposed bottom line was way out of proportion to what I was willing to pay, my real estate agent recommended we just move on. I looked it up later on the assessor’s page and saw it ended up selling for 20,000 less than what I was going to put in a formal offer. Oops. I still want that house. ;)

        In any event, the lesson I learned was it never hurts to ask. It at least puts the onus on the other party. I don’t know who is being truthful in this scenario, but I would hope that if we had plans of wanting to interview the guy, we actually asked and made them formally say no.

        Because then, its on them.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          This is just “PR” work by the Red Sox to cover up their hatred on Theo………Torey is a Big Boy, and he has an agent……words were transfer between the parties…….believe me, there are Red Sox Officials who are covering their a**…..it’s still a hot potato on what happen to Torey for not getting a Cubs interview.
          Or Maybe Theo was playing the Red Sox knowing he could not talk to Torey do to the agreement and “El Toro” was getting the job no matter what.
          Theo said he was keeping this interview process private.
          Your Realtor agent did an injustice to you and to that owner. Should always make a written offer if you are a serious buyer. Offers without a down payment means nothing.
          One of the reasons why I tell people Realtors are a waste of space on this earth. They rather work on making snooty remarks & back stabbing each other then trying to sell someone’s home.

  • Sonate

    Reports are that Marlon Byrd signs for the Phils for $16 million over 2 years. Don’t know what performance level the Phils expect from him, but his 2011 season with the Cubs is likely. That’s about 9 HRs, a 275 average and an OPS of about 719. If you were to look up “average player” in a baseball dictionary, you’d probably see Marlon Byrd’s picture. The Cubs overpaid when they got him. The Phils overpaid by $10 million for a player who will turn 38 during next season. It seems that many teams FOs have much yet to learn about player value. Hey, I don’t begrudge Marlon Byrd. If he can find someone ignorant enough to pay this price, more power to him.

    • Tony_Hall

      The scary part is I have seen projections that had him getting that much money over 2 years. The price on the FA market is very high and almost always ends up being a bad contract.

      • Sonate

        “…almost always ends up being a bad contract.” Agreed. Someone else “forecasted” he’d get $$$$ like this too. Maybe the Phils know something we don’t???

    • Sonate

      A small correction. Instead of turning an “elderly” 38 next season, Byrd will instead be a “spry” 37!

    • BosephHeyden

      He hit .291 last year. And it didn’t hurt him any that he did better in the second half of the season for a team making a playoff push. Between his first season with the Cubs and his time with the Rangers, he was always above .280. When he took the fast ball to the head in Boston, that may have screwed with him a bit, and the PED suspension didn’t help any, either. But 2011 being shortened by a pretty significant injury and 2012 being shortened by a mistake he made may skew the fact that he was a pretty solid hitting outfielder, and will likely continue to be one.

      • Sonate

        It’s certainly possible, and you raise good points. But he’s never hit over 20 HR’s in a season before last year. Typically players “regress” toward their career average, which implies a strong performance deterioration. I guess we’ll know for sure this time next year!

      • Ripsnorter1

        .268 vs RHP last year.
        .344 vs LHP last year.

        He changed his batting style in that he swings more with his legs now, for more
        power.

        My guess is that he can hit .240 again. And this is his second big FA contract.
        That’s good for 1 additional HR, so I see him collecting 10 HRs this year.

  • Steve Baier

    I really think they’ve got to promote Mariano Duncan to the big-league staff.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Mark DeRosa took a job with the MLB Network. He is no longer in the running for the Cubs’ radio job.

    • BosephHeyden

      I was actually thinking that would be where he’d wind up. From the few times I’ve watched it, it seems like a pretty laid back environment where former players just talk about the sport they used to play while being paid to have a bit of fun with it.

      Then again, I suppose that’s something you can get away with when not a lot of people have a reason to watch the channel outside of the few people willing to tune in for the draft.

      • paulcatanese

        Plus the fact MLB Network spends most of it’s time pushing East Coast teams.
        Red Sox, number one on the air.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      If Mark did take the WGN radio job, I heard he would only be put on the air when the 7th inning came around to take over for Pat.

  • John_CC

    I think Mueller would be a good hire. He has experience scouting, coaching and in the front office. One of these years, and probably sooner than later, McCloud will be hired away for a GM job somewhere (assuming Epstein allows him to interview) and it would be pretty nice to have potential in-house candidates.

    Now I don’t know if Mueller is any good at any of these jobs, but I will assume he is as the Dodgers are not a shaddy organization anymore and certainly don’t have to fill positions on the cheap.

    Plus I always liked Mueller. He was solid ball player. And his hitting line is pretty nice over his 10 year career: .290/.373/.425, one batting title, one silver slugger award.

    All this about cronyism and “yes men” is bologna. Mueller played 5 seasons with Giants, 3 with Boston, 2 in Chicago, and 1 with Dodgers where he has been working since 2006.

  • CubbyDenCritic
    • K_Gripp

      Bryant, Almora, and Baez are all untouchable in my opinion. Anything with their names involved is pure conjecture.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        I agree……but which Cubs prospect could be had in a trade?……
        Vogelbach?…….Soler?……..Villanueva?….
        Szczur?…….too early to trade these guys off until we know how they can help us.
        Vitters& BJax are consider.to be “Busts”…..
        All our prospect pitchers are either have more value for us (Johnson, Edwards, Underwood, Ramirez, Vizcaino)…..or little value to others (Cabrera & Hendricks)
        Theo will make his usual one Cub for three Prospects trade when the time is right.

        • Vivid_Reality

          Alcantara for Heaney. If they wanted Villanueva, I wouldn’t say no.

          • cubtex

            It will take more than Alcantara for Heaney. He is a top 50 prospect.

          • Vivid_Reality

            Alcantara is probably in the 50-75 range at this point. Its not unthinkable that they could work something out.

          • cubtex

            Heaney is 48. Alcantara is not in top 100. Heaney is a polished college arm who is on the fast track. Would love to aquire him but it will take more than Alcantara imo.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Javiez Baez is not even hit the majors yet, but he has become the most sought after prospect by the other 29 MLB teams.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Once the Cubs measure how Olt plays at third, Christian Villanueva who I believe is our future third baseman, might be trade bait for Theo to get pitching,……..Candelario is moving up the system, and seems to have better bat control then Christian has…….plus, Candelario can play first……..Theo has to wait on two important issues next season before he makes key moves with his minor league surplus…..Can Olt contribute at third…..and can Rizzo be the anchor at first…….Vogelbach, Candelario & Villanueva are waiting in the wings.

  • cubtex

    Phillies Sign Shawn Camp http://dlvr.it/4JzGNZ #mlb
    hahahaha!

    • TheWrongGuy

      Suckers!

  • cubtex

    Losing this guy really hurts!

    Cashner enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013, remaining healthy for a
    full season for the first time in his Major League career. The
    27-year-old totaled 175 innings and posted a strong 3.09 ERA with 6.6
    K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a healthy 52.5 percent ground-ball rate. His fastball
    velocity — which averaged a strong 94.5 mph on the season — actually
    trended upward at season’s end, and he finished particularly strong. In
    his final seven starts, the 2008 first-rounder posted a 1.22 ERA with an
    outstanding 45-to-7 K/BB ratio. Cashner lasted at least seven innings
    in each of those starts and added his first career shutout in the
    process. He projects to earn $2.4MM in arbitration this winter, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

    • John_CC

      Yes it has. But as you know I am one that has not given up on Rizzo. I want to see what he and Cashner both do in 2014 before I bemoan the trade. The best we can hope for will be to look back on the trade and say, “Wow – that was one of the most equitable trades I’ve seen.”

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Petco Park stats…….1.95 ERA
      Away……………………4.00 ERA
      Location, Location, Location means everything to pitchers who pitch in big parks.

      • cubtex

        1st half 3.81 ERA
        2nd half 2.14 ERA

        This guy had a hunting accident and sliced open his hand last offseason and his 1st half was basically spring training for him. He has dominant stuff and I am sure his splits will be a lot closer than that next year. He is not a product of Petco.

        • SuzyS

          Cubtex…Ray, I have this vision of driving down the street in Texas…and seeing a large flag flying in front of a house that says:
          “Cashner is better than Rizzo.”

          And that’s how everyone in the neighborhood finds your house.

          I have certainly known since that trade occured that that is how you feel.

          It’s really nice to hear something fresh and new:-)

          • CubbyDenCritic

            Last time I was in Texas, I saw long horn cattle roaming on the road with the Cubs letter “C” burned into their sides.

          • Cubtex

            Lol! No…. No Texas flag in front of my house either. This just came out today on mlbtraderumors and that is why I copied. I hated to give up a young controllable power arm like Castro. You have seen me argue that from the start and everyone is starting to see how good this guy will be. With the lack of pitching in our organization it was bad timing to deal him.